This Thing of Blood & Love, Lesley Saunders’ fifth collection with Two Rivers Press, is an intense examination of human culpability, the secrets we half-keep from ourselves, the contradictory selves we inhabit, the histories that live on unreconciled in us, the planet whose imperfect stewards we are; and above all the unfathomable mystery of being (in) a body, incarnated, made flesh – a thing of blood and love that betrays us with its appalling vulnerabilities.
The poems in this book display the celebratory delight in language which has continued to impress readers and reviewers of Saunders’ work, though here imbued with a disturbed and disturbing awareness of mortality – the ultimate vulnerability from which in the end we derive our deepest sense of self.
Lesley Saunders. Paperback, 84 pages, 210 x 135 mm, February 2022.
Lesley Saunders’ poetry in ‘This Thing of Blood & Love’ operates in a space somewhere between science and mystery, carnality and spirit. In its enigmatic scenes it is sometimes reminiscent of unsettling, dreamlike painting – yet this is not painting, but poetry, linguistically rich, made of language at once sensuous and subtle. It is highly aware of the human body, of the materiality of flesh, and equally of the psyche. It is poetry with a sophisticated, up to the minute quality, knowledgeable about our lifestyles and technologies, and alive to modern sciences of the mind. Saunders is a serious poet with a light touch, who marvels at the constitution of human physical being and the labyrinthine ways of consciousness. She is alert to the apocalypse we have invited to destroy our fragile world. She skates on thin ice, stylishly, gracefully, aware of the risks. Her enigmatic work does not lend itself to summary. It can only be entered by a reader prepared to share an exhilarating dance on the ice. — Jeremy Hooker
The new collection by Lesley Saunders, ‘This Thing of Blood & Love’, is truly superb. Her sensuous intellect and inquiring translucence place her very high among contemporary poets. Antiquity and the present moment, the body and the lexicon, art and entomology and the scent of rotting fruit, Cy Twombly and the melting of the polar ice caps – at every point her writing is on fire with the passion of divining understanding, prickled senses. I approach a poem by Lesley Saunders with a certainty few poets currently give – that something arresting is about to happen. — Michael Hulse
Saunders takes no prisoners where knowledge of art, languages, and learning is concerned … [she] invites and explores ambiguities and takes us below the surface of the apparently obvious, in the process providing surprising images and collocations … [she] approaches these themes at a slant with something like fury, [and] delves under the skin and into the heart. — Dominic Fisher, in Raceme